The news about Tesla Autopilot lately has mainly been about the driver assist system’s limitations and it is certainly important to talk about those, but the system has also been improving quite significantly with recent updates and it’s fun to take a break and look at those improvements too.
It can now handle increasingly more complicated road situations as we see it now being able to merge into another lane in a construction zone.
As we previously reported, the update (2018.10.4) released last month features a new neural net rewritten by Tesla’s new Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, Andrej Karpathy, and his team.
Since then, we have seen some significant improvements as owners have been testing the new computer vision technology in increasingly more complicated situations.
Last month, we shared a video from Model S owner John Sorenson that showed Autopilot handle a short construction zone surprisingly well.
Other Tesla owners have since been trying to see how the system can now handle more complexed situations and John Chimento caught a good one on video that shows Autopilot automatically merging into another lane guided by a series of construction cones:
Historically, Autopilot had some issues with detecting static objects in the road, like cones, which is partly what makes this impressive.
The Autopilot also effectively completed a lane change through the process, which generally needs to be activated by the driver pressing the turn signal.
In November, code found in the Autopilot software showed that Tesla’s neural net is able to recognize construction zones and that the automaker is now using its fleet to recognize and categorize obstacles and corner cases for Autopilot to navigate.
Beyond recognizing them, it looks like it can now increasingly attempt to navigate through them, but Tesla still officially say in the user manual that Autopilot is not made to avoid those kinds of situations and the system is made for highway driving.
PSA: It’s understandable that owners would want to test the limit of the Autopilot system by putting it more difficult situations like that, but as usual, we recommend staying attentive and always be ready to take over control. And if you want to film those attempts to push the limits of Autopilot, it’s better to invest in some sort of mounting system for the camera and not film with a handheld device.
And if you want to be even safer, don’t use Autopilot in a construction zone – just like you normally wouldn’t use cruise control. The system is clearly getting better, but it still has its limitations and it doesn’t mean it would perform like that every time.
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